I've just finished my first shift, a night shift, after spending 9 days in Chicago for the American College of Emergency Physician's Scientific Assembly. My island and my hospital are slowly returning to something that more closely resembles our pre-Ike condition. UTMB is operating a number of outpatient clinics, but still has no inpatient beds. Our emergency department volume is up to 40 per day, about a quarter of our previous volume. Unfortunately, without on-call physician support and without inpatient beds, most of those patients are transferred to other facilities.
The cruise ships have returned, bringing the curious and the adventurous to see the ravages of the September 12th hurricane. Downtown still looks like a war zone, with rubble and destruction everywhere, but the noises of cleanup and construction promise a brighter future.
On a personal level, I now have hot water and air conditioning, two elements essential to life on the island. There are three pharmacies and two grocery stores open and fully functional. Two well-known national retailers have opened their doors for business. It is estimated that two-thirds of the island population has returned.
I also have the privilege of choosing my future today. No, I can't control the weather, the economy, or the war in Iraq, but I can choose the person who will govern our nation for the next four years. There will be record numbers of Americans turning out to exercise that same privilege today, and whatever the result, the existence of choice makes my life a better one.
Go Vote, America!